Skip to main content

Full text of "A Commentary on The Revelation"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 

1 891] Book Notices. 313 

\m% §toto. 

A Commentary on The Revelation. 

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. The Revelation of St. 
John the fiivine : With Notes and Introduction. By the late Rev. Wil- 
liam Henry Simcox. New York: MacMillan and Co. Pp. LX., 174. 
Price 75 cts. 

At last we have a commentary on Revelation reasonable in matter and price, 
fresh, broad, scholarly, free from crotchets, and positive without narrowness, 
dogmatism or vituperation. The regret, already expressed by many, is inten- 
sified by the appearance of this book that the biblical world has so early lost 
by death the presence and work of this competent scholar. Sixty pages of In- 
troduction furnish a very complete presentation of the general problems of the 
book. Chapter I. on the Authorship and Canonicity of the Revelation, main- 
tains the canonicity and, after a careful examination of the arguments against 
the authorship by John the apostle, rejects all but that from 'style and allows 
that even this may be set aside if sufficient time can be shown to intervene 
between the composition of the Revelation and that of the Gospel. In ChapteT 

II. therefore, he takes up the question of date and place of composition. The 
latter is recognized to be Patmos. After a thorough resume of the tradition 
as to the date and a study of the internal evidence, the evidence of Irenseus 
in favor of the late date is set aside and the conclusion is that " the most prob- 
able view seems to be, that the Revelation was written by the Apostle John, 
at some time between the death of Nero in June A. D. 68, and the capture of 
Jerusalem in August A. D. 70." Principles of Interpretation occupy Chapter 

III. This chapter is not so clear as it might have been made but the general 
position of the writer is that there is truth but not the whole truth in each of 
the great systems of interpretation the " prseterist," the " futurist " and the 
" continuous historical" or " resumptive." The book must have been more or 
less intelligible to its first readers ; yet its pictures and visions have no com- 
plete and adequate counterpart in the history of those times — but await a 
complete fulfilment ; and that fulfilment is to be preceded by certain events 
which occur in the history of the world and occur repeatedly. But the "con- 
tinuous historical " scheme is regarded as a failure in its attempt to make out 
its detailed scheme, and the identification of Antichrist with the Papacy is 
emphatically denied from the testimony of both Scripture and history. 
Chapter IV. completes the Introduction with an Analysis. 

The main body of the commentary follows, succeeded by an Appendix of 
thirty pages embodying three excursus. The first considers the question 
whether the " angels of the churches" are bishops or guardian angels, and 
leans to the latter view. The significance of the angelic element and of the 
four living creatures is also discussed. The second is concerned with the 
Heresies controverted in the Revelation and finds in the absence of references 
to the doctrines opposed in the Gospel evidence for an early date. The third 
" excursus " is by far the most important as well as the longest, being au elab- 

314 Book Notices. [Nov., 

orate examination of Vischer's recent theory of the Composition of the 
Apocalypse so highly commended by Professor Harnack. Mr. Simcox while 
recognizing the plausibility of the theory and the difficulties which it succeeds 
in explaining, cannot find sufficient evidence in its favor to warrant its accept- 
ance. In the commentary Mr. Simcox seems to want to be impartial and 
desirous simply to get at the sense of the passage under consideration without 
regard to theological presuppositions. Thus he maintains the literal inter- 
pretation of the millenium passage, regarding any other view as exposed to 
insuperable exegetical difficulties and adding, "if the true sense be not the 
literal one, it is safest to regard it as being as yet undiscovered." The 
"woman " of chapter 12 is the Jewish church. The beast " the eighth and is 
of the seven," is Domitian. 

There is much to commend in this book. There are some things also which 
are defective. We have already noticed a want of clearness in the discussion 
and the same appears in the interpretations. Various views are suggested 
but no definite grounds are given for decision and the student is left in uncer- 
tainty not merely as to the writer's view but as to the facts in the case. The 
other chief defect is a failure to give due weight to the symbolic character of 
the book, and to recognize a unity, whether original or artificial, in the course 
of thought. Perhaps, however, the reader and student may be thankful to 
meet with a commentator on the Revelation who is not provided with a ready- 
made scheme of interpretation, not cock-sure of every hard passage, not so 
desirous of making a clear and strong impression as of getting at the truth, 
and willing to be uncertain where the light is dim. 

Historical Criticism and the Gospels. 

Gospel-Criticism and Historical Christianity : a Study of the Gospels and 
of the History of the Gospel-Canon during the Second Century, with a 
consideration of the results of Modern Criticism. By Orello Cone, D. D. 
New York : G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 365. Price $1.75. 

This book is addressed " to the believers who fear criticism and to the un- 
believers who appeal to it," and the endeavor is to persuade both parties to 
see that the extremes at which they stand are equally wrong. True criticism, 
criticism in its final and settled issues, is a defender of the essentially histori- 
cal character of Christianity. However readers may agree with the positive 
statements of the author upon disputed questions, they may be duly grateful 
for this conspectus of the course of investigation into the canon, genuineness 
and authenticity of the Gospels. It is difficult to avoid expressions of individ- 
ual opinion when one is dealing with such themes and also to be willing to 
confine oneself rigorously within the bounds of one's chosen field of discussion, 
but the writer has emphasized rather too vigorously his radical views and per- 
mitted himself to range through the realm of exegetical and dogmatic theol- 
ogy. He admits possible Johannine material in the Fourth Gospel but denies 
its authorship to the apostle John. It is concluded that there are state- 
ments attributed to Jesus in the Gospels which it is impossible that he ever 
uttered, especially all the material about the second coming which is the pro- 
duct of the Jewish consciousness of the time. The hermeneutical method of 
the evangelists is impliedly beneath contempt. On the whole the Gospels are 
" unique productions of love and legend," in general not unhistorical and yet 
not history, containing legends, discrepancies, contradictions, "unhistorical 
elements of various kinds." These are the main positions of the book on criti- 
cal questions.